By Sok Pheakdey
Cambodia Express News
Translated from Khmer by OssPrey OssDey
The Cambodia Daily (CD) published an article titled “In Cardamom Mountains, Two Deaths Recounted” in its Saturday-Sunday 28-29 April 2012’s edition. In it, the CD provided a lengthy account of the event that led to the murder of Chut Wutty, President of the Natural Resource Protection Group, and In Ratana, a military police officer, in the afternoon of 26 April 2012 in Phnom Kravanh (Cardamom Mountains), Koh Kong province.
Based on this article, two CD women reporters – 27-year-old Phorn Bopha and 27-year-old Canadian [Olesia] Plokhii – were traveling with Chut Wutty in his old burgundy Toyota Land Cruiser from Pursat to Koh Kong province along the Phnom Kravanh mountain range.
When they arrived at the location of the incident, next to huts close to a road paved with gravel, Chut Wutty and the two reporters got out of the car to take photos of yellow vine [used in traditional medicine to treat stomach ailments] piled next to a hut. At that time, a man wearing a black T-shirt and blue short came to tell him to stop taking pictures and to leave the area.
As the situation became tense, the two CD reporters who were interviewing the villagers about yellow wine decided to return to Chut Wutty’s vehicle parked along the road. When they arrived at the car, Chut Wutty was talking with a soldier dressed in beige desert military uniform of the type used by US soldiers. During that time, a man dressed in civilian was also seen standing with Chut Wutty.
The uniformed soldier, who did not tell about his identification, told Chut Wutty and the two CD reporters not to leave area until they receive the authorization from his superiors. However, the soldier did not say who his superiors are, nor when they will arrive there.
The soldier prevented Chut Vutty from entering the car even after the two CD reporters pleaded with him to allow them and Chut Wutty to leave the area.
[The Cambodia Daily also reported physical stand-off between Chut Wutty and the soldier.]
After a while, three men arrived in two motorcycles. Two of the men wore military police uniforms, one in military uniform with a mask covering his face.
All three men were armed with AK-47 and the soldier with the mask reeked of alcohol smell.
The military police and the soldier told Chut Wutty to accompany them to go meet their “boss” in Koh Kong city, then they chased Chut Wutty away from his car.
The 5 military police officers and soldiers then confiscated the cameras and they forbade Chut Wutty from entering his car where the two reporters were sitting inside. The group of military police and soldiers yanked Chut Wutty’s shirt and unbuttoned his shirt.
The military police and soldiers then confiscated two cameras from the CD reported, then they allowed Chut Wutty to get inside the car and leave. However, Chut Wutty’s car would not start due to a dead battery. He then asked the two CD reporter sto help push the car to start the engine.
During that time, the soldiers and military police cursed Chut Wutty and the two CD reporters, calling them slaves. Another verbal clash then took place. Twice, the soldiers reached inside the car key to turn off the engine. The situation became more tense.
Finally, Chut Wutty was able to start the engine and tried to drive out, but the soldiers stood in front of his car, preventing him from leaving.
During the tense situation, Phorn Bopha called Kevin Doyle, the editor of the Cambodia Daily, to report the situation, then shot were fired into Chut Wutty’s car while the latter was sitting inside the driver seat. The two reporters were not injured, they then got off the car and ran for cover in the forest. The reporters did not know where the shots were fired from nor who fired them.
After the incident, the two reporters returned to the car and they saw Chut Wutty injured on the driver seat. In Ratana, a military police, was also seen lying in the ground in front of Chut Wutty’s car. The two men did not die yet, but the soldiers and the military police did not help them. They left the two injured men on the spot until they died even after the two CD reporters pleaded with them to take the two men to hospital.
The soldiers forbade the two CD reporters from leaving the incident area. [The two CD reporters then took refuge in a nearby hut. Two other soldiers arrived and one of them said loudly enough for the reporters to hear:] “Just kill them both.”
[The soldiers then said that they should drag Chut Wutty’s car to the nearby forest. Meanwhile the body of In Ratana was also dragged to a nearby hut.]
About 90 minutes later, a group of cops arrived at the incident location to take note and to check on the bodies which they later sent out Koh Kong city.